Ware Farms

Speaking truth to prejudice

Monday, December 06, 2004


Reproductive Health - England

Reproductive health is a whole different story in Europe. We might as well be on different planets. I recall when I was stationed in England in 1967, I was watching the telly one evening. Around 10 PM the announcer said that the regular program would be delayed for an important message concerning women's health. The Minister of Health (MH) appears and begins discussing women's breast self-examinations (BSE).

This was brand new at the time. I recalled first hearing about it on the nightly news before I'd left the States a few months before. The MH mentions how important these are and how often they should be done, so he's going to describe the step by step procedure. The scene shifts to a woman standing before her bathroom mirror. The camera is behind her and to the right. She is wearing slacks and a blouse which isn't tucked in. The reflection in the mirror shows the blouse isn't buttoned down the front, there's a gap of a few inches between the edges.

"First," the MH intones, "give your breasts a thorough visual inspection." The woman dutifully pulls the two sides of her blouse wide apart and looks at her breasts in the mirror. The MH goes on the describe exactly what she should be looking for and I'm sitting there staring at the reflection of her breasts in the mirror as well. I was a bit stunned, I must say. Breasts on TV? My gracious! If I had my wits about me, I would have thought, "Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore."

As the MH describes the next step, her left breast fills the screen. She presses two fingers of her right hand to the edge of her breast and works her way around the outside as he describes, then moves in closer in smaller circles each time till she's pressing her fingers firmly against her nipple.

The screen shifts back to the MH who makes some final remarks about BSE's, then the regular programing continues. This announcement runs at the same time each night for about a month.

So... In the US, this important development in breast cancer detection gets 90 seconds on the evening news, with the anchor telling women to ask their doctor about it. In the UK, this is important enough to take to the public airwaves and give women a step by step demonstration of the procedure.

They had the same decency restrictions on their regular programming as we did, but if they could save women's lives by getting them to start these BSE's as soon as possible, and do them correctly, that was the more important consideration.

Then, 37 years later, we have a wardrobe malfunction and... Well, I guess we're back in Kansas again.

Saturday, December 04, 2004


Creationist and Bacterial Evolution

Here is a comment I made on one of my favorite blogs, "Dispatches from the Culture Wars" hosted by Ed Brayton.

The specific post was "Response to the Anonymous Creationist"


As one of the 95% who have only a basic understanding of evolution, I appreciate the many explanatory details you have provided.

At first, when I read AC's statements, I had a vague feeling that something was wrong, they didn't make sense, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Now I see some of his remarks as such an illogical interpretation of misstated data that even I can see right through them. Thanks for the time you have invested in your commentary.

His idea that bacteria under stress are more likely to mutate in areas which would lead to more adaptable outcomes shows that something more "intelligent" than evolution is involved in selecting these points was a real hoot, I nearly fell off my chair laughing!

Obviously, any bacteria which showed a preference for mutating in areas that did not lead to more adaptive outcomes died off eons ago. Only those that mutate at these more adaptive places are around today. This is a perfect example of natural selection which is a corner stone of evolution. His example supports evolution, not the contrary.

What I really don't understand is why some people have this near pathological need to maintain a supernatural explanation for phenomena that the evidence clearly shows arise from rather mundane naturally occurring processes. I know the Greeks and Romans had gods in control of the weather, the hearth, fertility and just about everything else, but geez, hasn't our ever increasing knowledge of nature served to dispel these myths? Why someone today feels it necessary to conjure up a mini-god of the genome to "explain" why bacteria under stress mutate in places which are more likely to produce adaptive outcomes when the simple process of natural selection addresses this so eloquently is well beyond my ken.

Thanks again for your cometary. Hi to Lynn. B